Newstalk June 6th 2022
Many people were horrified by the long queues at Dublin Airport last weekend and put off travel abroad. So I’ve compiled a couple of routes around Ireland that will fill you with inspiration for a road trip at home.
Take a Road Trip in Northern Ireland
The stretch of road that hugs the coast from Belfast to Derry covers 212km and weaves through a landscape that competes with the Pacific Coast Highway or any epic road trip. The Causeway Coast is a spectacular drive with gorgeous fishing villages and stunning sights along the way – Start outside Belfast and stop off at The Gobbins. The Gobbins Cliff Path Walk is anything but ordinary. Carved into the base of basalt cliffs, this 5km hike includes navigating fifty steps, suspension bridges, caves and moments when you’ll be walking below the impending tide. You will get to see wonderful wildlife and stunning scenery. Cost is £20 adults and pre booking essential.
The Giant’s Causeway is on many people’s Bucket List and most people think you need to book tickets but it is free to walk down to see the Basalt Stones. However if you do go through the visitor centre you will learn more and be given an audio tour guide which will enhance the experience prices £13 per adult and £32 for a family tickt. checkout https://www.causewaycoastandglens.gov.uk/ for a full itinerary of all the great places to visit and things to see on this coast.
If you drive a little inland you can see the Dark Hedges made famous in the series Game of Thrones. Then drive past Musenden Temple and Dunluce Castle where Game of Thrones was also filmed. Visit the Bushmills Visitor Centre home to one of the first Irish Whiskeys and enjoy a one hour tour and tasting from only £10 https://www.bushmills.eu/distillery/. Stay at Bushmills Inn from £230 per night for two people including dinner. This fabulous property has a secret library and fabulous restaurant – be sure to try the steak with Bushmills sauce. The flag room has an extensive collection from all over the world and everyday the flag of the visitor who is from the furthest location away will see their country’s flag hoisted above the tower. https://www.irelands-blue-book.ie/houses.html/bushmills-inn
End this Road Trip in Derry at the Derry Girls Mural which is painted just outside the City Walls. Derry is the only city in Ireland to retain its walls intact and there are wonderful coffee shops and craft shops inside. The views are stunning and you can see the bogside and all the way over the Foyle Bridge. Stay within the city walls at the Bishopsgate Hotel which is full of history. Part of Irelands Blue Book, you can enjoy an overnight stay at Bishopsgate Hotel from £117 for two people .https://www.irelands-blue-book.ie/houses.html/bishop-s-gate-hotel
Great news for foodies, Browns in Town has opened up in Derry with expert chefs Ian Orr and Marcus Roulston from Ardtara Country House at the helm. https://discovernorthernireland.com/destinations/derry-londonderryDerry is great fun and they have the Foyle Mairitime Festival this summer which is great fun. The Foyle Maritime Festival returns to the city from Wednesday 20th until Sunday 24th July and will see the arrival and stopover of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, which is scheduled to arrive in Port from 14th July onwards, bringing with it all of the excitement and ceremony that accompanies an international sporting event of this calibre. As expected, a flurry of preparations is underway to transform the riverfront into an international marina with all the tastes, colours, scents, sights and sounds that come together to create this epic experience, that attracted over 210,000 people when it last occurred in 2018
Enjoy a Trip along the Copper Coast in the South
East Cork doesn’t always get the same litany of accolades as the west but I’ve a wonderful drive to suggest from Waterford along the copper coast with lots to do. Along with an audio tour around Annestown, there are walking trail cards for the villages of Annestown, Boatstrand, Bunmahon, Dunhill, Fenor, Stradbally Trails, and Audio Trails along the Copper Coast. The trail cards can be printed or stored for viewing on your phone. Check the website for details and cards https://coppercoastgeopark.com/
Start your tour in Waterford because there is so much to do. I stayed at the Granville Hotel which is a lovely old world family run hotel on the quays. A two night stay at the Granville Hotel starts from – €298 for total stay and the hotel is a close walk to a cluster of museum gems under the umbrella of Waterford Treasures They are all conveniently located in Waterford’s Viking Triangle and parking was painless and close at the Clock Tower car park in the centre of the city.
The Museum of Time is a tranquil space even though the chimes of some items can be heard at the o’clock and some clever holograms introduced us to the craft of horology at the beginning of the displays. The array of clocks have a breathtaking range of style, age and design. Surprisingly one of the most unique and expensive is from 1938 and was crafted in Dublin. Indeed it was good to learn that the skill and excellence seen in Irish clocks from every century was amongst the highest standard in the world. And some date further back than the Battle of the Boyne. Clocks and watches from all corners of the world with unique stories of the places where they were made. The medieval Museum tells the history of Waterford with stunning textiles and artefacts from the middle ages. Henry VIII’s Cap of Maintenance is encased behind glass and thought to be the monarch’s only surviving item of clothing. The Museum of Silver is right beside the other museums and there is an interactive Viking experience which is great for the kids but pre-booking is essential.
I’m just back from a wonderful stay in Ballymaloe House nestled in amongst acres of glorious farmland. I was given a biodiversity tour by Tobias the groundkeeper and popped into see the choices for classes at the Ballymaloe Cookery school. During the summer there is a spectacular range of sculptures on display in the grounds from 9am to 9pm and this exhibition runs until the end of August. If you’d like to stay at Ballymaloe then you are in for a treat. Ballymaloe Disconnect to Reconnect Packages start at €425 per night for two people sharing incl of dinner bed and breakfast. Please see link to package: https://www.ballymaloe.ie/
East Cork is filled with great history and Cobh is a must see for lovers of animals and history – with Fota Wildlife Park a family ticket for one da is €52. The Titanic Museum is €30 for a family ticket for two adults and two children. Check out my video that I made following up on my visit to the Munster Vales
For more on this region visit https://munstervales.com/